Quiet Your Call Center

509187642_d7a2adce85 Even though I had a pretty positive experience when I called AOL the other day, one thing I did notice was how loud their call center seemed. Call centers by nature are loud – it happens and is expected. However, it is a call center designer’s jobs to make it so that noise is not an issue.

In your call center, noise should not be an issue. If it is an issue, you need to re-look how your call center is designed.  Here are some suggestions for reducing noise (from a customer service person – not an architect or interior designer):

Get cubicles or more soundproof partitions. If your call center doesn’t have something that is there for privacy and soundproofing, it should. Putting a whole bunch of people at desks in a room does not work. There has to be some sort of partition designed for sound reduction.

Noise reduction in the room. It is amazing to see how poorly many call centers are designed. If you have a cool glass and steel building, that is terrific, but glass and steel don’t absorb any sound. The ceilings can’t be that high, either. Carpet is a necessity. When designing or choosing the room that your call center is going to be in, keep things like that in mind. If noise is still a problem after some basic changes, there is also other call center equipment you can consider investing in to keep things quiet.

Consider noise canceling headsets. There are plenty of great noise canceling headsets that you can buy from places like Headsets.com (interview here) or your preferred vendor. Noise canceling headsets will greatly reduce the amount of background noise that the customer hears on the other end of the line.

Get good headsets. As an addition to the above point, buy good headsets. Your customer service representatives will be using them all day. For what you pay them in two days ($12 * 8 hours * 2 days = $192), you can buy a really great headset. Top of the line. If they have good headsets, the sound quality and the customer service experience will be better for everyone.

Adjust the volume. Make it so the volume is adjusted properly for the customer service representative. If it is too loud or too soft, the representative might have to yell. This obviously is not ideal.

Give everyone some space. It is crucial to give everyone some space in a cell center. People like their personal space and it will help cut down on noise. I’m not suggesting to put 5 people in a 20,000 square foot call center – just give people enough room so they aren’t on top of each other.

How is your call center designed? How could it be better?

Photo courtesy of kecko.

6 Responses to “Quiet Your Call Center”

  1. Connie Smith said:

    Nov 05, 07 at 2:09 pm

    I agree — having a well-planned contact center space can impact both customer service and employee experiences. I am a strong believer in the Employee/Customer Value asset chain: where taking care of your employees’ needs can impact your customers’ experiences and your bottom line.

    I also think that employees have three basic needs that need to be met: emotional, mental and physical needs. Your post gets to the heart of the physical needs: providing a comfortable workspace helps employees be more effective in their jobs. If call center agents can hear their customers properly, and have enough room to complete their jobs comfortably, they will be more successful.

  2. Brandon - Call Center Consultant said:

    Nov 05, 07 at 6:43 pm

    I think a big problem in most call centers is that the focus of everything is on revenue. Because of that, they pack us in and 3 people are in the space one person should be in. It’s a great idea to keep the call center quiet, but not practical if your follow the “revenue at all costs” model of operation.

  3. How to Plan a Call Center with Noise Reduction said:

    Nov 05, 07 at 7:09 pm

    […] Hopefully that helps keep your call center as quiet as possible. For more tips and ideas, check out a post from Service Untitled called, ” Quiet Your Call Center“. […]

  4. Service Untitled said:

    Nov 07, 07 at 10:21 pm

    Connie – certainly. You have to meet all of those needs to have happy employees. If you can meet them, they will be happier and do much better.

    Brandon – right on! Call centers are extremely cost centric. It is cheaper to cram a lot of people in one room, but it is detrimental to the customer service experience. Companies have to make a decision.

  5. George said:

    Jan 04, 09 at 3:26 am

    And what about the agents that talk to each other ? how can we fix that ? imagine a room with 60 agents talking on the phone with customers and between the calls talking with others? any mirale recipes????

  6. Justin said:

    Dec 20, 10 at 3:50 pm

    We need to find a way to make call centers more humane in general. Between the ridiculous demands placed on employees by supervisors and management and the often abusive customers that agents get on the phone, call centers are often a major source of health problems induced by stress. I spent three years of my life working for call centers, and I know businesses need to focus on creating a healthy and safe work environment for their employees. Chairs, desks, and headsets need to be ergonomically correct, personal space needs to be correct, and more accessible counseling options need to be available for employees that are mentally distressed by customers who don’t care. As it stands, call centers are a societal problem that need correcting, and we will soon start to see numerous physical and mental issues emerging in past and present call center employees.